Chapter Four


ROYAL NAVY EQUIPMENT

404. In addition to its responsibility for the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent force, the Royal Navy continues to plan around the three core capabilities provided by nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carrier task groups and amphibious forces. We have continued to modernise the Royal Navy's equipment in order to maintain, and indeed in some areas to increase, its operational capabilities.

405. The first two Trident submarines, HMS Vanguard and HMS Victorious, have now entered service, both on time and to cost. The third submarine, Vigilant, was launched in October and construction of the fourth, Vengeance, is continuing to make good progress. The current estimated cost of the Trident programme is now 12,153 million if all expenditure, including payments already made, is brought up to current prices and at a common exchange rate of 1=$1.55, as assumed in this year's costing of the defence programme. This represents a real cost reduction of 3,430 million on the original estimate made some 14 years ago. Details of the Trident programme can be found at [refer].

Text Box: Trident

Photo 16 : HMS Victorious leaving Faslane[41k]

406. We continue with plans to improve the capability of the Royal Navy's nuclear-powered fleet submarines by replacing the Swiftsure Class with Batch 2 Trafalgar Class submarines. An Invitation to Tender was issued in July 1994 for the design and build of these vessels, which will be based closely on the existing and highly successful Trafalgar Class boats. Bids from industry have been considered and we have moved into negotiations with GEC Marconi. We hope to be able to place a prime contract for their construction next year. The Batch 2 Trafalgar Class boats will incorporate the new Tactical Weapon System, which is also being fitted to the Trafalgar Class boats already in service as part of an extensive upgrade programme which will significantly enhance their capability. Our Swiftsure submarines are also being upgraded to maintain their capability until they are replaced by the Batch 2 Trafalgar Class in the next century.

407. We announced in October last year an order for 65 conventionally-armed Tomahawk land attack missiles, following approval of the sale by the United States Congress. These missiles will be fitted to our nuclear-powered fleet submarines. Their long range and great accuracy will provide a significant addition to our military capability.